TV review: Crime documentary was chasing viewers

The Split cast: Ruth (Deborah Findlay), Nina (Annabel Scholey), Hannah (Nicola Walker) and Rose (Fiona Button) - Photographer: Steve Schofield

Britain's Cocaine Epidemic, Channel 5, Monday at 9pm

Crime documentaries are beloved of television channels chasing easy viewers.

Ireland's TV3 used to specialise in the kind of TV where everyone announces they are shocked that drug dealing is taking place among us.

Channel 5 has declared a cocaine epidemic in Britain and sent out a documentary team to uncover the secret world of drug abuse.

In fairness, they managed to convince drug dealers and their clients to appear on screen to talk about the business.

Some of the users were unmasked but all the dealers had elaborate face coverings. Most also had their voices digitally altered, but Channel 5 decided not to use subtitles meaning that much of the dialogue was difficult to understand.

A few scenes – where students apparently ordered a cocaine delivery on the dark web and a drug dealer cutting a kilo of the drug and then reforming it in an industrial press were interesting – but otherwise it was a wasted hour.

Despite the promises there was no real expose of the drug scene in Britain, just a confirmation of what we all know - that drugs now form a essential ingredient in a night out for a significant section of the population.


The Split, BBC 1, Tuesday at 9pm

BBC drama The Split is certainly of our time.

All the main characters are powerful, successful women and it's about the fluidity of life between career, husbands, lovers and siblings.

This certainly fits with the zeitgeist but it's also as complicated as the other topic of our time - Brexit.

Thinking about how borders, customs and tariffs will work after the UK leaves the European Union makes my head hurt.

So did The Split.

When you're watching TV and have to repeatedly hit the pause button to ask the other person on the couch if they understand what the hell is going on, it's not a good sign for drama.

Episode two of this six part series was as complicated as a Davis/Barnier options paper.

Our hero Hannah Stern (Nicola Walker) wondered if she chose the right husband after an old flame turned up at her work.

At the same time she clashed with the old flame's ex-wife Lauren who is also a matrimonial lawyer and is acting for a premier league footballer trying to arrange a pre-nuptial agreement with Hannah's client.

Meanwhile, the Defoe sisters arranged to meet their father for champagne in a hotel lobby 30 years after he walked out on them with their nanny.

Understandably, Hannah was uncomfortable with the casualness of the meeting and her father's demeanour. She walked out after asking him why he left.

And to send her stress levels into orbit; her sister Nina is going out on date with Hannah's old flame – the one she has a renewed crush on.

Throw in a couple of sub-plots, including Meera Syal in a nasty divorce from a sportswear millionaire husband, and you'd need a notepad to keep up.


Champions League, BT Sport, Wednesday at 7pm

Sport occasionally fails to deliver on the entertainment front, but the Champions League semi-final was television at its best.

Liverpool emerged victorious in a spectacularly high scoring game with heroic performance, heroes and villains.

There was an emotional tribute to stabbed Meath fan Sean Cox and end of match celebrations which looked like Liverpool had won the trophy.

It was the great media mogul Rupert Murdoch who first identified that live sport was the key to fee paying television and exploited it ruthlessly.

And it's his money which flowed from this which means that just three of Liverpool's players on Wednesday night were English.

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